Will IGTV Replace YouTube?

three-dimensional Instagram logo on a background that transitions from orange in the lower left corner to pink in the middle to purple on the right

Instagram moved in on Snapchat’s territory when it launched Instagram Stories in 2016. Now it’s moving in on another social media network: YouTube.

Instagram launched IGTV at the end of June 2018. IGTV is a long-form video platform, with video lengths going up to an hour (as opposed to regular Instagram posts, which limit videos to 60 seconds). IGTV has its own app, but it can also be accessed through the new IGTV button at the top of the Instagram app.

When Instagram decided to do what Snapchat was doing, they quickly surpassed Snapchat in terms of daily users. Their new foray into longer videos and a video-only platform has people wondering – is Instagram going to replace YouTube like it did with Snapchat?

Now that IGTV has been out for a little bit and we’ve had some time to look at it, we have an answer: No. We don’t think that IGTV will ever replace YouTube. Here’s why.

Limited search feature

There is only a very limited search feature in IGTV. You can’t search for individual videos – you can only search for “channels” (i.e. accounts). If you’re interested in a specific subject and you want to watch a video on it, you can’t search for it on IGTV unless you know of an account that posted a video on that specific subject.


IGTV is mostly focused on entertainment or information-sharing. You can’t find music or lyric videos, background music, tutorials, movies, or children’s videos on IGTV like you can on YouTube.

No archiving

You can only see an account’s most recent IGTV video. You can’t find any video that was posted in the past.

Mobile only

Even though most internet traffic is mobile these days, there are still people who prefer to watch videos on their laptop or desktop (or put on a video and do things on their phone simultaneously). Mobile-only also makes it harder to watch with other people, harder to watch while doing something else with your hands (like following a tutorial), and impossible to watch while doing something else on your phone (many people enjoy playing games on their phone while watching videos).

It’s new

IGTV simply doesn’t have the backlog of videos that YouTube does. And even if it did, you wouldn’t be able to find it – see the first point about a limited search feature. YouTube has 13 years worth of content you can search for and rewatch at your leisure; IGTV has just over a month’s worth of content, and you can’t see anything that isn’t an account’s most recent video.

None of this is to say IGTV is bad. On the contrary, we can see Instagram having a lot of success with it and a lot of content creators adopting it. However, we don’t see it cutting into YouTube’s market share very much – at least not without a lot of major changes to the platform.

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